KUCHING, June 5: Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen said the state government should have done what Petronas did yesterday — take the legality of the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA) to the Federal Court.
He pointed out that the declaration by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg that the PDA was null and void had no legal authority.
“In taking the legality of the Petroleum Development Act 1974 to the Federal Court, Petronas is actually doing what the Sarawak State Government ought to have done a year ago,” he said
Chong, who is also Stampin MP and Kota Sentosa assemblyman, noted that ever since Abang Johari became the chief minister last year, he had repeatedly told Sarawakians that the PDA was null and void and thus irrelevant to the state.
“However, to any lawyer in town, we all know that only the Federal Court has the authority to declare any law passed in Parliament to be ‘null and void’,” he said.
He added that no chief minister or prime minister had the power to declare a law passed in Parliament to be “null and void”.
“As the chief minister of Sarawak, Abang Jo should not be giving the people of Sarawak false hope that the PDA is ‘null and void’ without seeking a court declaration that the Act is in fact and in law ‘null and void’,” said Chong.
He said he had previously urged Abang Johari to challenge the validity of the Act in court, but the latter had not done it.
“While the Sarawak State Government has failed to challenge the legality of the PDA in court, the Petronas’ suit has now presented the state government with an opportunity to prove its claim.”
He said regardless of the decision of the court, the Pakatan Harapan government would fulfil its election manifesto pledge of giving Sarawak 20 per cent oil and gas royalties or its equivalent.
“In fact, the pledge of 20 per cent oil and gas royalty is also in line with what the late (Pehin Sri) Adenan Satem sought in the Sarawak DUN (State Legislative Assembly) motion that was passed in May, 2014.
“It was only when Abang Jo became the chief minister that he suddenly went beyond the demand set by the late Adenan and started claiming that the PDA was ‘null and void’. Yet, Abang Jo stopped short of filing for this claim in the Federal Court.”
On another matter, Chong who is also state PH chairman, said once the federal cabinet members were finalised, the state PH would form a Special Cabinet Committee to look into the devolution of powers and fiscal decentralisation agenda as promised in the PH election manifesto. — DayakDaily